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News from the Hill October 04, 2012 | back to index

Sturtevant Hall Ribbon-Cutting

Sturtevant Hall Ribbon-Cutting

Members of the Andover Newton community gathered before Wednesday’s community worship service on Sept. 26 for a ribbon cutting on the recently renovated Sturtevant Hall. The building, erected in 1866, is the second oldest on the Andover Newton campus after Farwell Hall.

President Nick Carter passed around a box of toothpicks and explained some history of the building’s namesake, inventor Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant. A manufacturer of wooden pegs used to fasten soles to the bottom of shoes, Sturtevant started his career hand-whittling the pegs until he decided there had to be a faster, more efficient means of producing the pegs on a larger scale. His work led to the creation of a lathe that would create pegs of a uniform size and shape.

The invention to make shoe pegs led to another device that created toothpicks on a massive scale, moving dental hygiene past a stage of using tree limbs to clean one’s teeth, Carter explained. (That practice also led to the invention of the toothbrush.) But there was a problem with sawdust lingering in the air of the toothpick factories – so Sturtevant invented an exhaust fan to help bring fresh air into the factory and take the particulates outside. The fans he invented led to innovations in naval technology and American industry.

imageSturtevant Hall has been remodeled to include 27 single-occupancy dorm rooms on its upper levels. “The building is similar in style to Farwell; rooms on each floor surround a central bathroom and shower area, but unlike Farwell, each floor has its own kitchen,” said Nancy Nienhuis, Dean of Students and Community Life and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives. “So nine people will share a brand-new kitchen. In addition, residents will be able to take advantage of the fact that the Student Center, Computer Lab, Mailroom, and group meeting space all exist on the main floor – they don’t even have to go out in the snow or rain to enjoy this!”

The ground floor is fully accessible, thanks to the construction of a ramp leading to the entry foyer. The first floor includes a public restroom, and the basement includes coin-operated laundry machines. While there is currently no elevator access to the dorm rooms on the upper floors, special features are available in certain rooms for students with other special needs.

“In addition, we’ve done a full electrical upgrade to the building, so residents will be able to have air conditioning units in the rooms,” Dr. Nienhuis said. “And of course the building has wireless capacity as well. We hope Sturtevant will be a wonderful living space for future generations of Andover Newton students. And for the first time, current students will have a small conference room designated for fellowship group meetings, study groups, and so forth, as well as 24/7 access to the computer lab, something that some students have been requesting for years. We’re excited to be able to bring all of this to campus.

“Finally, this renovation makes very good financial sense for the school,” she said. “Due to water damage in Sturtevant, we couldn’t use a large portion of it; in fact, the fourth floor had been locked for years.  Now we can use every room.  The additional rental revenue we’ll realize from the hall will allow us to pay for the renovations in a very short period of time.  And of course once that’s done, Sturtevant becomes a revenue producer for the school, which helps our bottom line.  Taking care of this building is in part about being good stewards of the school’s resources.”


The project was designed by the architecture firm of Donham & Sweeney, with construction work by Shawmut Design & Construction and assistance from Frank Cavaco and the schoo’’s Buildings & Grounds department.

Learn more about B.F. Sturtevant from the Jamaica Plain Historical Society.

Sturtevant Prayer

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